Haniyeh will seek to end Hamas’ isolation while not marginalizing hard-liners within the movement. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
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The Palestinian Hamas movement announced Saturday it had chosen its former Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh as the group's new political chief. Haniyeh succeeds Hamas' longtime exiled leader Khaled Meshaal, and the move comes shortly after Gaza's rulers unveiled a new, seemingly more pragmatic political program aimed at ending the group's international isolation.Haniyeh, seen as a pragmatist within the movement, is expected to remain in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave run by Hamas since 2007 .In its new policy document, Hamas notably accepts the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, the territories occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967 .Hamas' Gaza spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the leadership transition would be smooth.Haniyeh's first task will be to cope with escalating tensions between Hamas and Fatah, which is based in the West Bank.Ahmad also said Hamas must give up its control of Gaza, something Haniyeh has refused to do.The Gaza-based Islamic Jihad group Saturday slammed the Hamas policy tweak.
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